In the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, the conversation about sexual harassment and gender equality has never been louder. Many fathers find themselves constantly searching for ways to inform, arm, and empower their daughters about everything from consent to physical boundaries.
In a recent interview with Megyn Kelly, Friends‘ actor David Schwimmer discussed giving his 6-year-old daughter Cleo the power and confidence to speak out if she is ever in a situation that makes her uneasy. And he has some extremely helpful advice.
“With my daughter, it’s more about just knowing it’s your body and your space. It’s more about personal space and building confidence in her to speak out and speak up if anything she encounters makes her feel uncomfortable — period,” Schwimmer told Kelly.
Importantly, Schwimmer also made sure to note that encouraging boundaries and awareness does not mean that he wants his daughter to feel shame or guilt about her body in any way.
“There should be, in my view, no shame about her body and about being in her body and understanding how her body works,” Schwimmer said.
The actor then told Kelly about a recent incident where a few of Cleo’s classmates started “touching and kicking her back” at school in a way that made his daughter uncomfortable. Schwimmer said his daughter gave the boys a disapproving look; after hearing the story, he encouraged her to voice her discomfort in the future.
“Next time, Cleo, you need to turn around and firmly but politely say to please stop touching me,” Schwimmer told her. “If you do that twice and they keep on touching you, you stand up, walk away, and find a grown-up, period.”
Schwimmer’s has been a longtime advocate in fighting against sexual assault in society, as he has served on the board of directors of the Rape Foundation for more than 15 years. The organization helps adult and child victims of sexual assault and rape. More recently, he has joined the fight against workplace harassment, as he released a series of public service announcements with filmmaker Sigal Avin to help identify unwanted sexual conduct in the workplace. He also penned an essay where he expressed the need to end sexual harassment at work, noting that his mother was constantly mistreated by men in her office. Schwimmer hopes that by speaking out and staying involved, he can do the one thing all good fathers desire: make the world a better and safer place for children.